In an attempt to answer the question of whether the games industry is dying or not, Twisted Pixel
Lead Developer Dan Teasdale
conducted research into all of the layoffs of 2012 and believes he has found that, among other things, MMO developers had the highest risk of being fired
"Looking at the the raw number of people affected, MMO teams laid off more developers than console teams," Teasdale argues. He notes that 38% of video game industry layoffs hit MMO studios, although only 26% of MMO studios did any firing. Layoffs in Boston and Austin, including the closure of 38 Studios
, accounted for a third of all industry layoffs, which could look good or bad depending on the total number of studios in those two cities relative to the rest of the industry (info hard to come by and not included in the study).
One upshot of the report was that MMO studios tended to lay off fewer people when firings happened in comparison to social, mobile, and console studios. "While this probably isn't a surprise, it's a clear indication that it's way harder to survive as a social or MMO developer than a console developer," he concludes. However, the analysis does not break down the types of employees laid off, such as designers vs. support, community, and temporary contractors, roles common in the MMO industry.
Teasdale readily admits his work has some limitations. "We can't normalize the data to show how much console gaming shrank as a percentage compared to other segments, since we don't know have a breakdown of 'total console developers' or 'total MMO developers'," he writes. "There were more console closures, but there are more console studios to start off with." He was also forced to define studios by their primary focus, meaning that a hypothetical 60% MMO/40% PC studio that laid off its PC workforce was likely counted among MMO layoffs.
The entire article
is worth a look for readers with a predilection for graphs and spreadsheets.